As a parent, nothing is more important than the health and well being of your child. You want health, vitality and fulfillment in every area of your child’s life, and you set out to raise your child to create responsible, self-reliant members of society.
One aspect of health that many parents worry about is dental health. In a world filled with increasing offerings of processed junk food, sugary snacks, and sticky drinks, it can seem nearly impossible to keep your child’s teeth completely free from plaque and decay. Ir you are a parent who has the desire to create optimal oral health for your children, consider this information question and answer session to get you started on the right path to caring for your child’s teeth:
Is it essential to care for baby teeth?
Many parents think that caring for baby teeth are not essential, as they will eventually fall out. Baby tooth health and development are essential, however, for skills that your child is developing such as chewing, swallowing, and speaking. Setting your child up for success in these areas by caring for your baby teeth is essential for long term oral health.
What is baby bottle decay, and how can I prevent it?
Baby bottle decay is a real thing—it occurs when liquids that are given to children via bottle that contain natural sugars wear down enamel on teeth. Liquids such as juices, sports, drinks, and even milk contain natural sugars; allowing your baby to fall asleep with a bottle in the mouth is one surefire way to open the door to baby bottle decay. To prevent this condition from occurring, keep your baby’s teeth clean after drinking a bottle, and never allow your child to take a bottle to nap or sleep with unless it contains only fresh water. Follow your pediatric dentist’s recommendations for keeping your child’s teeth clean and free from plaque and other sticky substances that can ruin teeth.
Are activities like thumb-sucking and using a pacifier harmful?
Self-soothing activities like using a thumb and pacifier are acceptable for short-term use, but by no means should your child be using a pacifier past the age of three. Any longer than that, and your child could be doing structural damage to their mouth, teeth and gums. Teeth will not develop and grow in properly, and you could be setting your child up for a lifetime of orthodontic challenges with continued use of a pacifier or thumb. If your child still needs help with self-soothing, consider a blanket or stuffed animal as an acceptable alternative to oral soothing techniques.
When can my child start using toothpaste?
In the beginning stages of tooth brushing and oral stimulation, only a wet toothbrush or warm washcloth should be used to massage and stimulate teeth and gums. Toddlers age two and beyond can use a pea-sized amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste, but be sure not to encourage swallowing after brushing. Your children will likely need assistance with brushing their teeth until about age 7-8, when they have developed the fine motor skills needed to effectively brush on their own.
Are sealants recommended for my child?
Sealants are a safe and effective way to keep emerging teeth free from decay. Though brushing and flossing are effective in removing most food and drink debris from smooth surfaces of teeth, sealants are recommended for those nooks and crannies found in back teeth, where bacteria love to grow. Sealants are recommended on all permanent molars that emerge between the ages of 6-14 years. You will be preventing decay and providing a healthier environment for your child to continue developing good oral care habits that will last a lifetime.
Have additional questions?
If you have more questions about dental care and your child’s teeth, it is best to have conversations with your child’s dental care team to design an individualized care plan that will help them get on the path to lifelong dental health. Make an appointment for a cleaning and consultation today, and set them up for a bright and smiley future ahead!